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Oct 5, 2013 02:40 PM

Old Tree Daiwan Bee, Chinatown, London

An ok gua bao - a rather stiff bun, cardboardy on occasion when it should have been soft and fluffy, filled with succulent and smoothly textured braised pork belly, crushed peanuts, airy coriander leaves, and sweet, salty and sour pickled mustard greens for a classic contrast against the pork.

Pork chop with rice comes with the same pickled mustard greens for the same effect. The pork chop was decent, but seemed a little under fried. The dark braising sauce with minced pork is a fairly standard Taiwanese condiment, the version here seemed light and not particularly rich.

Extra order of soy braised egg was pretty standard.

Good bubble tea - the tapioca pearls were soft on the outside and chewy in the centre, and the milk tea flavour was pretty rich.

Nice to have a place like this around, but nothing earth shattering in terms of deliciousness. Might try their thin noodles (mian4 quan2) with oysters in the future, as it's one of the classic dishes of the genre.

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  1. I love oyster noodles. Does sound like the Fujianese are taking over the restaurant trade these days from the Toishanese-Cantonese in London-Chinatown - same as what's happening in the Chinatowns in New York and San Francisco.

    4 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      It's only one restaurant, so not really much of a trend. Plus these guys seem Taiwanese rather than Fujian, in that they have a couple of non-Fujian (Sichuan) dishes as well.

      The Fujianese trend in NY is really Northern Fujian aka Min3 Bei3 (what we call Hock Chew in Singapore) rather than Fujian as a whole. There's not much southern Fujian aka Min3 Nan2, although one can find aspects of this cuisine in Taiwanese places, which is culturally closer (e.g. language) to Southern Fujian.

      Incidentally, in London Chinatown, Leong's Legend also serves a range of Taiwanese dishes; that's been covered a few years back.

      1. re: limster

        I'm wondering if the "Taiwanese" places are actually run by Fujianese migrants as they, together with other Mainland Chinese (mainly from north-east China), seem to be the main workforce in Chinatown these days. Even the old Kowloon Bakery's servers only spoke Mandarin now, and couldn't understand Cantonese at all - very different from 20 years back when Cantonese was the lingua franca in Chinatown.

        Anyway, Northern Chinese food (and those from other parts of Mainland China) are now readily available in Chinatown nowadays - previously, anything non-Cantonese (e.g. "xiao long bao", "la mian", "jian bing") is practically unheard of. Chinatown's old restaurants (Mayflower, Fung Shing, Wong Kei, Lee Ho Fook, Chuen Cheng Ku, etc.) were all Cantonese, serving a rustic Toishan-inflected cuisine.

        1. re: klyeoh

          Owner of Daiwan Bee is Taiwanese according to this blog:

          Regardless, it would be different from the trend in NYC where Northern Fujian migrants were opening Northern Fujian restaurants rather than restaurants serving other Chinese cuisines.

          Not all the newly available cuisines in Chinatown are Northern Chinese. If you're looking for Northern Fujian food, there's 2 places in Chinatown - New Aroma and Fuzhou Restaurant, both have been around for a few years. New Aroma is good, but haven't been in a few years. There's also places with Sichuan and a recent opening (Oriental Dragon) with Shanghainese. And don't forget Maotai Kitchen for Guizhou (as well as Hunan/Sichuan).

          1. re: limster

            I know very little about regionality, but just wanted to say I enjoyed a light lunch at Daiwan Bee on Saturday. I liked the "rice pudding" with mushroom and pork especially, and also the oyster omelette. Scallion pancake was a bit dry but flavorful enough. I'd stop by again for a snack.

    2. Thanks for the review. I have a plan to eat here with a friend next week.